Remember that movie Rudy most football fans love to watch? The one that makes you believe anyone can reach their dream through enough hard work? Of course we despise Notre Dame fans for constantly bringing him up like he’s emblematic of every Irish supporter in the world, but he is a great inspiration nonetheless.
If there was a modern day Rudy on the Ohio State roster, that player would be Ben St. John. And much like the character in the movie, his passion for his school and achieving his goal through sheer will is truly inspirational.
St. John is a backup offensive lineman on the Buckeye roster, something that many people never thought would be possible. Except for St. John himself.
Growing up in Elmore, OH, a small town between Toledo and Sandusky, St. John always dreamt of playing in Ohio Stadium. And his career at Woodmore High School was very impressive, as is the norm with all Ohio State players. He was a league champion on the wrestling team and a regional qualifier in the shot put and discus on his track and field team.
This success did garner interest from colleges, but from smaller colleges in the Midwest. This would surely bring some athletes down, but St. John kept his hopes up. There was no scholarship offer from Ohio State, no Rivals or Scout rankings, no Army All-American Game, and no invitation to announce his decision on television. All of the fanfare OSU fans have grown accustomed to in their recruits was non-existent for St. John.
That did nothing to stop his goal. He kept hoping and kept dreaming the chance would present itself, while also making possible plans to play in the smaller schools that had contacted him or to simply go to Ohio State as a student. Finally the opportunity came. The Walrus (former OSU offensive line coach Jim Bollman) called and offered St. John the chance to come as a walk-on. It was an offer St. John couldn’t refuse, especially from a man like Bollman who looks even scarier than Don Corleone himself.
During his three year term as a walk-on at Ohio State, St. John has yet to see the field. But that makes his story even more impressive. He’s living the dream every Buckeye kid growing up in Ohio wants to live. He dressed for all eight home games last season and has transformed his body since the new regime arrived. He went from 300 pounds down to 285, all the while knowing he will most likely not see the field. That’s A LOT of early morning workouts for what would seem to some very little reward.
He still has yet to see game action, and he is trying to accomplish the goal of earning a scholarship from The Ohio State University to play football. But in many ways, he has already achieved his dream and is a story most parents would love to tell their sons.
While being honored as a scholar athlete on three separate occasions in his tenure in scarlet and gray, he is an exercise science major (according to the university profile) and will undoubtedly do well after his days on campus.
With the bevy of new recruits coming in these days, it’s hard to tell if St. John will see the field during game days, but that is not the point. The moral of the story here is that St. John is a person and a player to be admired and revered for his determination to do what he loves.
If every college student had his drive, the world would be a better place. And right now, St. John is on the road to success both on the field and off.